Why you should make your business values specific

Darryl Cooke

Too often leaders use financial or numerical goals to motivate people. They feel comfortable in this environment. Too often employees say they don’t get out of bed in the morning to achieve financial objectives.

They come to work and want to be inspired by doing something important, something that makes a difference. A strong mission can shape an organisation and is even more powerful when linked with a strong set of values.  A strong set of values is irrelevant if you  don’t have a destination in mind. Your values are likely to be common to almost any organisation. That is because they represent the moral norms of the societies within which they operate. In fact they should not be dissimilar from your personal values. How people feel at work and why they come to work may be soft issues in business but they have a definite impact. There is a link between people feeling proud about what they do and profitability.

Values define how people behave in an organisation in pursuit of their objectives and they define a business to the outside world . However they can often be fluffy  – and it is important that you work hard to translate your values into deliberate actions.

Clive Woodward when he took over the England rugby team in 1997  set about professionalising rugby union. He had worked out that a Northern Hemisphere team could not beat a Southern Hemisphere team man for man. The only way it could happen was if he built a better team. Woodward, a former England player learnt his management skills at Xerox, where he claims that there was only one business book that he had read twice- Building the Happiness Centred Business – by Paddi Lund. Lund writes about building a business where people treat each other with respect and courtesy. By creating this happiness in a business Lund argues that you will also create awesome client service. Happy people treat clients better. Positive emotions in a business are going to create a happier environment which will without doubt lead to better customer service. Lund achieves this in his business by agreeing and adopting a set of very specific courtesy rules.

Woodward describes how he sat down with 30 or so 15 stone plus rugby players well before the 2003 World Cup to create a set of courtesy rules for England which he says determined the culture of the team and the level of support they would give each other.The rules are developed by your team. They are their rules and are how they agree they would like to operate. A team that really works together will always out perform a group of individuals. And the rest is history…

The only rule is that your business values must be specific to be able to work – they should not be fluffy e.g. Suggesting that everyone be nice doesn’t work but saying ‘thank you ‘does work… actually I say the only rule – of course the most important rule is that you  make every effort to practice them. Every day. Because as we know practice makes perfect.

By Darryl Cooke

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